Phillies right-hander Hector Neris has rapidly risen through the club’s ranks in the bullpen, pitching in a setup capacity at the moment and with a future as a potential closer, manager Pete Mackanin tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. However, as Salisbury reports, Neris was almost never part of the organization at all. Neris nearly had an agreement with the Royals as an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, but Kansas City backed out of the deal because they doubted the validity of his documentation. It wasn’t until two years later that he was discovered by Phillies scouts, who preempted a scheduled workout with 12 other teams with an offer to sign for what now seems an extreme bargain: a $17K signing bonus. Six years later, Neris is armed with a fastball that can touch the mid-90s and a splitter that Mackanin terms an “invisible” pitch and catcher Carlos Ruiz calls one of the best he’s ever seen. Neris has a 1.04 ERA with a 27-to-4 K/BB ratio through 17 1/3 innings this year on the heels of 40 1/3 innings with a 41-to-10 K/BB ratio in 2015.
More from the NL East…
- The allotted time for Josh Edgin’s minor league rehab assignment is nearly complete, but as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes, the Mets lefty is likely to be optioned to Triple-A at the completion of that window to continue building back up from 2015 Tommy John surgery. Specifically, DiComo writes that Edgin isn’t yet pitching on back-to-back days, and his velocity, which most recently topped out at 88 mph, is a far cry from the 92-93 mph he could throw prior to undergoing the operation.
- Marlins manager Don Mattingly is making a strong impression in his first year on the job, writes FOX’s Ken Rosenthal in a notes column. The former Dodgers skipper drew nearly identical praise from assistant GM Mike Berger and coach Perry Hill in separate interviews, Rosenthal notes, for the manner in which he commands accountability and his attention to detail. Berger called Mattingly “the right voice at the right time” and added that Mattingly addresses issues that arise “in a way that makes you feel like a million bucks.” The Marlins have had a tumultuous week, with the 80-game suspension of Dee Gordon still looming large over the club, but the club has nonetheless won nine of its past 10 games.
- The Nationals’ decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg after 159 1/3 innings in 2012, his first season back from Tommy John surgery, has perhaps helped to pave the way for him to sign with another club this winter, writes MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Strasburg’s arm has held up well since that controversial decision, and he’s now poised to hit the open market this coming winter and break former teammate Jordan Zimmermann’s $110MM record for a post-Tommy-John pitcher. While Morosi doesn’t specifically touch on this, it seems particularly difficult to envision the Nats retaining Strasburg in light of their struggles in signing free agents this past offseason due to their need to include deferred money in each of their contract offers. Morosi speculates that Strasburg could receive more than $150MM over six years, which is perfectly reasonable but strikes me as conservative for Strasburg, who will pitch the majority of next season at the age of 28. As Tim Dierkes noted recently in placing Strasburg atop MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, agent Scott Boras seems likely to target $200MM+, and it’d be a surprise if Strasburg (assuming health) didn’t land an opt-out clause as well.